The Weirdest Iceman Week Ever…

It’s Iceman Week! For many of us, it’s like the week before Christmas, the Super Bowl, and National Pie Day all rolled into one. This isn’t a normal Iceman Week, of course, but nothing in 2020 has gone according to plan.  Continue reading “The Weirdest Iceman Week Ever…”

For The Fun Of It: The 2020 Course

Last week, we made the call. No doubt the announcement that this year’s Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge wouldn’t happen disappointed a lot of people, but we’ve been overwhelmed by the positive calls, emails, and text messages in the days since our racers heard the news. Your support has made a very tough time so much better, and we can’t thank you enough for the donations and kind words.  Continue reading “For The Fun Of It: The 2020 Course”

The Tough Call, The Right Call: How We Got Here

It was way, way back in March on the long drive down to Bell’s Eccentric Cafe for the registration party that we started bracing ourselves for this possibility. The Festival Foundation was scrambling not only to sign up eager Icemen and Icewomen for our 31st edition but also to switch the Leapin’ Leprechaun 5k to a virtual event. To my knowledge, they were the first event to make the move. They were not the last. 

On the drive home that night, I thought that, at most, we’d miss a few of the spring races. Over the next few weeks, events in April, May, and June canceled or postponed. Then, it was July and August. I got texts, emails, phone calls, and messages almost every single day asking one thing: “We’re still racing Iceman, aren’t we?” By August, that had changed to something more frustrating, more disappointing, and more honest: “Why have you’ve canceled Iceman yet?”

We weren’t sitting on our hands. Iceman planning starts the Sunday after race day, and that was certainly the case in 2019. By the time we flipped the calendar to 2020, we’d already restructured parking, changed traffic flows in Kalkaska, created the new course, and looked at how we could build more participation in our women’s Pro race. 

All of those plans were put on the back burner with COVID-19. By the end of March, we were already looking at a ton of ways to tweak our race for fall. As confident as some of our racers were, our team watched as event after event were forced to throw their hands up. For the Foundation team, canceling the National Cherry Festival was almost certainly the most difficult decision of their professional careers. In the process of evaluating that event, we started to realize more and more that Iceman as we all know it wouldn’t be possible. 

We ran through dozens of changes to the event, eliminating the obvious elements such as cutting the SRAM Ice Cycle Expo, removing our busing and shuttles, and drastically whittling down race day infrastructure. The finish would have no BISSELL Celebration Zone, where we often get more than 10,000 racers and spectators. In fact, after cresting Icebreaker, racers would be able to see the extent of the finish area in a split-second, with only a timing tent, first aid station, and a very apologetic race director asking them to keep rolling through to the parking lot to get picked up. 

There were many reasons to cancel the event and very few feasible ways to put on anything that resembled the quality race that’s become such an institution in bike racing. First, I think it’s important to say that even if we could have put on the race, bringing over 4,000 people to our region during a pandemic would have been dangerous. Especially with many kids heading back to school, it was impossible to forecast what conditions would look like not just in Traverse City, but in major population centers like Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and other places that send their best riders north for the weekend. 

Next, we were denied a permit from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. From the beginning, we’ve trusted and respected the guidelines and restrictions put in place by the state to keep people safe. The DNR denying the permit wasn’t a barrier for us; we believe it was yet another way for us to measure and evaluate risk, and we thank the DNR for working so closely with us this summer. It confirmed what many of us knew to be true; bringing together people from across the state, Midwest, and country isn’t the right thing right now. 

Finally, the decision came down to quality. The Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge earns its reputation each and every year by being the biggest show in town. Our race committee spends months planning and weeks setting up something that feels a bit like the Super Bowl halftime show. We were very concerned that a watered-down version of our race would leave a bad taste in the mouths of participants; come for the Rolling Stones, but see the middle school band? It just isn’t what we do. 

I want to thank the Foundation staff for working tirelessly to try to make this happen. We met weekly (on Zoom, of course) to discuss safety procedures, bounce new ideas off each other, and constantly find ways to make the 2020 Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge a reality. I strongly believe that if any group of people could have pulled off a safe race for thousands of people in a pandemic, it would have been this team. But because they are the quality, caring people they are, they also knew that the best decision for our racers, our sponsors, and our wider community would be to wait until 2021. 

Racers, we’re going to work just hard to make sure that 31st edition of the race happens. What we need is your support to get this staff through 2020 and ready to work on making 2021 the biggest party yet. We understand that times are difficult, but if you can afford to leave your donation, you’ll be ensuring that our tradition of racing through the snow, mud, and rain in November carries on for generations to come. We’ve lined up prizes from Bell’s, a Trek Top Fuel, tons of Clif Bar, and other awesome rewards for donating, including a chance to ride with 2019 Pro winner Alexey Vermeulen! 

Be safe, stay healthy, and look out for each other. Until next time, we’ll see you in the woods! 

2020 Registration Details

To view this information in the original email, please click here

Onsite Registration
Anyone can register at either one of our onsite locations for the 2020 Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge whether you are a first time rider, a 20th time rider, riding Meijer Slush Cup or racing in the 30 mile Iceman; all are welcome to come and celebrate with us. 

Come see us at the Bell’s Eccentric Café in Kalamazoo or 7 Monks Taproom in Traverse City on March 6.  Details are below:

Friday March 6, 2020
2:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Bell’s Eccentric Café
355 E Kalamazoo Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Friday March 6, 2020
2:00 pm to 6:00 pm
7 Monks Taproom
128 S Union St
Traverse City, MI 49684
Online Registration
 If you raced in 2019, early registration will open for you on Friday March 6th at 9:00 am.  On Thursday March 5th, you will receive a link to the registration page and an early access code that you will need in order to register early. Online registration will be open to 2019 racers only until Monday March 9th.
If you are a new racer or if you raced any year other than 2019, online registration will open for you on Monday March 9th at 9:00am. 
Racing Age
Please remember when registering that your “racing age” is determined by your age on December 31.
 Email us at or visit us on Facebook!
2019 Photos
Looking from some great photos of you on the trail in 2019. Check these out from Rob Meendering! 

Victory! We saved the trail!! Thank you everyone!!!

Victory!  We saved the trail!!  Thank you everyone!!!

Thank you everyone who took the time to e-mail the county commissioners or come to the meeting.  It was standing room only at the meeting.  After debate and public comment,  the Grand Traverse County Commission decided to sell the land to the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.  

Read the breaking story

Thank you Ice People,  GTRLC and GT County Commissioners!

CBS Broadcast: Mark your Calendars for Nov. 25th @ 1pm EST

CBS Broadcast: Mark your Calendars for Nov. 25th @ 1pm EST

The 2018 Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge will be broadcast as a one-hour long television show on CBS Sports Network during Thanksgiving weekend at 1pm EST, on Sunday, November 25th.

The telecast will then be repeated later in the day on the West Coast and Mountain Time zones.*

The local CBS affiliate 9&10 News, is scheduled to re-air the Bell’s Iceman telecast on December 2, from 2-3pm EST.

*Times may vary. Please check your local lists for times in your area.

Read more about this great program.   

Welcome to our 2018 Pro Men!

Welcome our 2018 Pro Men!

It never gets old does it?  It’s another great year of the men’s best mountain bike racers coming to race for the title of Champion of the 2018 Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge.  It’s every man for himself out there.   Check out the full sortable list of racers.

Geoff Kabush

Winner for 2018. Kabush, 41, will be defending his 2017 title.  We think his nickname (k-Boom) says it all but as a refresher, Geoff was the winner in 2013, 2nd at 2014’s “Mudman” and 3rd in 2015. The three-time Canadian Olympian currently rides for Yeti Cycles & MAXXIS. Kabush has been racing in Canada since he was 15 and is a 15-time Canadian National Champion.  @GeoffKabush

Payson McElveen

Payson, 25, of Durango, Co. finished 2nd last year.   Payson races for Orange Seal Cycling.  He’s a 2x Marathon National Champion for 2017, 2018 and 1st at the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival.  He finished 6th in 2017 and when not riding likes writing, fly fishing and sports talk radio.  @PaysonMcElveen

Brian Matter

3rd Place for 2018. Brian, 40, and will be participating in his 25th Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge.   After his win in 2014, Brian holds the record for the most wins at 4! Rumor has it he is hungry for more. He recently finished 3rd at the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival.   Brian is sponsored by Trek / Bontrager / Shimano / Pro Gold / JTree / Rock Shox Find him at and on Twitter  @TheWiscoDisco

Ben Sonntag

5th Place for 2018. Ben, 38, grew up in Germany but lives in Durango, Co. He finished 4th in 2017 and 5th in the 2016 Bell’s Iceman.  He rides for 9niner bikes/ Team Clif Bar Cycling.  Ben got an impressive 1st at Carson City Off-Road earlier this year  @ZeGermanCyclist

Troy Wells

Troy, 34, was our 2015 Pro Men’s winner.  Hailing from Durango, Co., Troy races for Team Clif Bar Cycling. Wells recently got 2nd at a cross race in West Sacramento, but we have a feeling he wants to take that Ice Trophy home again.  His bio states “Favorite rest days are on a beach somewhere drinking margaritas watching the sunset.” Come back to TC in the summer @tdub255!

Cole House

Cole, 30, was 6th last year at Bell’s Iceman and is a 2 x National Fat Bike Champion.  He hails from Oneida, WI and is probably hoping for snow on Saturday.   According to Peloton Magazine, “House’s mother had given him the Indian name Tekastoslunti, which roughly translates as “floating feather.””  We’ve witnessed that. It’s amazing.   @Cole_House

Alexey Vermeulen

2nd Place for 2018.Alexey, 24, of Pinckney, MI finished 9thth last year and races for Interpro – Stradalli. He recently finished first at a brutal Peak2Peak race. Great to see him off the road and in the woods!

Scotty Albaugh Jr.

Scotty, 25, of Waterford, MI made it into the top 10 last year. Let’s see what he’ll do this year.

Jorden Wakeley

Jorden, 28, finished 11th last year and is racing for Giant Bicycles/Northbound Outfitters.  He finished his first ultra-marathon this year, so if he has a mechanical, he might just pick up his bike and run it in. And still beat most racers.  He’s also the 2015 Arrowhead Ultra winner so you know the worse the weather, the stronger he is. @JordenWakeley

Russell Finsterwald

Finsty, 27, comes from Boulder, Colorado, and races for SRAM | Troy Lee Designs Race Team.   Russell is a seasoned Bell’s Iceman veteran at only 27. He had some injuries in the last year, but we’re all glad he’s back and tough as ever.  @finsty He’s also a darn fine photographer: Check it out!

Floyd Landis. 
Do we need to say anything more?  Cool. Welcome to Northern Michigan Floyd and Floyd’s of Leadville.

Scott Quiring

Scott is a 3x Bell’s Iceman winner from the late 90’s and he is still one of the fastest dudes out there. He has his own bicycle company and after completing the LumberJack 100 this year, the Bell’s Iceman is gonna feel short!  @QuiringCyclesLlc

Please welcome these Bell’s Iceman newbies:

David Zabriskie, 39 from Salt Lake City, Utah. He’s a newbie to Bell’s Iceman so everyone be really nice to him on the course. Mr. DZnuts has done a race or two in his time and is business partners with Floyd Landis. Welcome Dave Z.

Tristan Uhl
Tristan, 30, from Smithville, TX races for Giant and Live Co-Factory Off-Road Team.  Tristan has some impressive race results and they will not be overshadowed by his impressive mustache. Can’t wait to see what he can do on these cold, northern Michigan trails! @ biketuhl

Peter Disera
4th Place for 2018. Peter, 23, from Horseshoe Valley, Ontario, and races for the Norco Factory Team XC. He finished 1st at the Canadian National Championships in Canmore this year. Please note his bio says he is not a vegan!  

Ryan Steers
Ryan, 33, is from Agoura, CA, and races for GIANT. He’s a pro cyclist and a wine nerd.

Don’t forget our top local racers who know the course and plan on giving the pro’s a run for their money: 

Jeff Owens, will be racing for Keen Technical.  He’s one of those really nice guys who smiles while making his friends cry from pain while riding with him.

Cody Sovis, racing for 3T Q+M, has the impressive overall rank of 2nd for the Pro/Cat1 racers and was first last year in Ice Society.   He’s fast and he’s funny.  Check out his website:

Braiden Voss, 16, returned home from the Miller School of Albemarle to race this year.  That’s pretty cool. Watch out, this kid is the real deal.

Tim Pulliam, 44, made a last-minute call and stepped up to the Pro race.  He’s fast and fit this year, and he’s racing for his company, Keen Technical.

Sean Kickbush, never one to register too early, is back in the Pro race and looking to break into the top 20. He races for 3T Q+M.

Is it Saturday yet?

Welcome out 2018 Pro Women!

Welcome our 2018 Pro Women!

The Pro Women’s race is anyone’s race to win!  With neither 2017 1st or 2nd place finishers racing, the podium is wide open.  Besides some of our veteran racers, we’ve got some new ladies that shouldn’t be overlooked.  This is going to be good folks!

Check out the full sortable list of racers.

Kaitlyn Patterson: 
4th Place for 2018. Kaitlyn has finished 2nd in 2016 and 3rd in 2017, will 2018 her chance to claim 1st place?  No longer the new girl, Kaitlyn comes with a reputation and she (and everyone around her) will have to work hard on Saturday to keep up.

Chloe Woodruff: 
Winner for 2018. After reigning champ for 2 years, Chloe wasn’t on the podium last year, but with Katerina Nash MIA, Chloe has her sights on the top step again!   She races for Team Stan’s NoTubes – PIVOT and TEAM USA. Find her at or on twitter @chloewoodruff 

Amy Beisel:
5th Place for 2018. Amy has been hovering near the top step for a while.  In 2016 she got 3rd, 2017 6th and this year might be her year to be back on the podium. She races Orange Seal Off-Road Team.  Amy is also the 2016 Fat Bike World Champion, she’ll be ready if it starts to snow.  You can find her on Ice Society and

Catharine Pendrel:
3rd Place for 2018. After taking a year off from Iceman and a humerus break this season, Catharine is back!   She won the 2013 Pro Women’s race but even more impressive is her winning a Bronze Medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics, her 2x World Champion, and 3x Canadian Olympian. She races for the Clif Pro Team.

Rachel Langdon:
Rachel, 30, hails from Louisville, KY.  The last two years she has been an impressive 6th and 7th.  This year she won Barry Roubaix AND set a course record. She races for Gray Goat Bullseye Total Media and has a whole lot of races under her belt for 2018 with some serious results! 

Mary Penta:
@mary_penta , 39,  of Indiana and sponsored by Think Green/Bicycle Face.  She finished 2nd this year at the Barry Roubaix, a mere 3 seconds behind Rachel Langdon.  She’s been racing quite a bit this year and we’re excited to see what she’s got.

Georgia Gould:

Georgia will face her biggest Bell’s Iceman Challenge yet.  Not on course, but in the Announcer Box providing commentary to all of us!  We’re pretty sure this two time Bell’s Iceman Champion and U.S. Olympian is up for the challenge and we can’t wait to hear what she has to say!

Please welcome and watch for these Bell’s Iceman Newbies:

Sofia Gomez Villafañe,

2nd Place for 2018. Sofia is 24 and  was born in Argentina but hails from Park City, UT. She races for Stan’s Pivot Pro Team. While new to Bell’s Iceman, she is not new to the sport.  She has an impressive resume and we can’t wait to watch her test her skills on our Northern Michigan Trails.  @sofithevilla

Lindsay Knight, 34, from Chicago, IL. Known for her Cross Cycling skills and her work with youth cycling non-profit Blackstone Bicycle Works.  Lindsay also has a Ph.D. in Political Science and might have a lesson or two for our ladies in the Pro field.

Also in the mix are our local Michigan favorites:

Megan Doerr, 35, races for McLain’s Race Team.  This is her first year racing Pro/Cat 1. Megan was the fastest amateur woman in 2017.  She’s also being inducted into the MMBA 2018 Hall of Fame for Racing!

Maddy Frank, 18.  She’s from Walker, MI.  She finished 1st in the Junior race last year and has stepped up to the Pros.  

Susan Vigland, racing for Hagerty Cycling, is back and stronger than ever.  She’s not only an amazing racer but Susan loves trails and is current board president of TART trails!  

Bridget Widrig, racing for Hagerty Cycling. Bridget is the nicest, most humble person you’ll meet…until the start gun goes off! 

Bell’s Iceman Entry Giveaway!

Bell's Iceman Entry Giveaway!

Missed your chance to enter the 2018 ICEMAN????? Our good friend Chuck Grzanka , cycling advocate, and are once again giving away several entries for the best race in the USA!

Already entered? No worries. Use your winning ticket in 2019. Just visit and at the very end complete the “Contact Us” page with your info to be eligible for the drawing. Easier than riding your bike for 30 miles through snow, mud or whatever conditions Mother Nature and ICEMAN throw our way on Saturday. Be well. Be safe. Good luck.

The Ten Commandments of Bell’s Iceman

The Ten Commandments of Bell's Iceman

Our security team, in conjunction with Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Office and Metro Fire Department, works to ensure that all participants and spectators have a safe and enjoyable experience while watching the racing action at Timber Ridge Resort. They have compiled a list of some practical “Do’s and Don’ts” that are really basic social etiquette that will keep everything flowing smoothly throughout the afternoon. (All of these suggestions come with a big PLEASE and THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION from all of our staff.)

1. Thou shall race a clean, fair race.

2. Thou shall be Courteous while racing. (Announce yourself when you pass.)

3. Thou shall respect the Handicap Parking area at Timber Ridge for those who truly need it.

4. Thou shall ONLY drink Bell’s Beer in the BISSELL Celebration Zone.

5. Thou shall only pack dry clothes—no beer—in your clothing bags.

6. Thou shall keep moving on the staircases over the course.

7. Thou shall use the bike exit so you don’t have to drag your bike up the stairs.

8. Thou shall update your Ice Society profile with Emergency Contact Info

9. Thou shall support our Sponsors

But most importantly…

10. Thou shall Haul Ass and have a great race!